Phoenix Compensation Agreement - FAQs

President Debi Daviau signed the compensation agreement with Treasury Board on June 12, 2019.

This agreement provides each member paid by Phoenix with up to five days of paid leave in compensation. Individual cases of Phoenix errors continue to be treated and individuals will still receive the pay they are owed. There will also be an expedited process for resolving more serious damages cases and what is eligible for reimbursement will be expanded. 

This agreement applies to employees, retired employees, former employees and the estates of deceased employees. Students and casual workers are excluded.

The periods of leave for 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19, will be credited no later than 150 days from the signing of this agreement for current employees (November 12, 2019). The leave for 2019-2020 will be credited within 150 days after the end of that fiscal year. 

Additional compensation will also be available through a claims system. The process for these individual cases is currently being developed.

We are seeking clarification on the application of this agreement to members who work for the House of Commons and the Senate.

FAQs were updated on January 14, 2021.


Paid Days of Leave
 

1. When will the days of leave be added to my leave bank?

Departments will be crediting leave on different timetables between now and November 12, 2019. You will receive an email from your department identifying the date that the leave will be credited. An email will follow to confirm that the leave has been credited to your bank. It will explain the process to address any issues that may arise. The day of leave for 2019-20 will be credited after the end of the current fiscal year (after March 31, 2020).

2. How can I use, cash out or roll over my leave?

These days of leave are treated the same as annual vacation leave and are subject to the same provisions in your collective agreement.

3. What criteria do I need to meet to qualify for the leave bank credits?

In order to qualify for each fiscal year’s worth of leave, an employee needed only to have been employed for one day in that fiscal year(s), whether or not they were on leave, assignment or otherwise not active. For example, if you were hired to the federal public service on September 1, 2017, and have been employed since then, you will get three days of leave credited to your leave bank (2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20 fiscal years). You are eligible for these leave bank credits if you were a PIPSC member or a member of another signing union during the fiscal years described above. At the Government of Canada, a fiscal year runs from April 1 to March 31 of the following year.

4. Are the leave days prorated if I didn’t work the full year?

No. To qualify for each year’s leave, you only need to have been employed one day in that fiscal year. You will receive the compensatory leave for each of the four years in which you were employed for one day.


Claiming Additional Compensation for Phoenix
 

1. I have incurred direct expenditures due to Phoenix. Can I claim it through this new compensation agreement? What should I do?

You may be eligible to submit a claim under one of the compensation processes made available by the employer:

  • Reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses
  • Compensation for financial costs and lost investment income
  • Compensation for severe personal and financial hardship

You should review the eligibility criteria to determine whether you can submit a claim.

2. Am I entitled to make a claim for damages for general pain and suffering?

Beyond the base compensation of up to 5 days of leave for general pain and suffering, employees who suffered exceptional and severe personal and financial damages may file a claim for further compensation. The employer will engage in a detailed review of claims submitted, with supporting documentation, that meet a threshold of losses greater than $1,500 (this threshold does not apply to every type of claim). 

3. What if I’m owed less than $1,500 for out-of-pocket expenses related to Phoenix?

There is no minimum threshold for out-of-pocket expense reimbursement.

4. If an employee or former employee has previously submitted a claim for out-of-pocket expenses, will they be eligible to submit a claim for additional compensation through this process?

Yes, they will.

5. Will an employee or former employee be able to submit a claim if they did not apply for an emergency salary advance or priority payment due to a Phoenix pay issue?

Yes, they will.

6. When can a claim be submitted?

All of the following claims processes are accepting claims from members:

  • out-of pocket expenses
  • general compensation damages for former employees
  • financial costs and loss of investment income
  • leave taken because of health issues related to Phoenix
  • severe personal or financial hardship
7. Can I submit a claim under more than one type of damages?

Yes, if you experienced damages that fall under more than one type, you can complete more than one compensation request. You will not receive any duplicate compensation, but it may enable you to meet the required $1,500 threshold that is applied to many claim types. For example, if you declared bankruptcy due in whole or in part to the Phoenix Pay System, you can submit a claim for related damages to the bankruptcy. You could also submit a claim for mental anguish if you experienced this and it interfered with your ability to lead a normal life.

8. If I’ve already met the threshold of $1,500 with a claim for lost financial costs under the previous Phoenix compensation, do I have to meet this threshold again for the compensation for severe personal and financial damages?

If you have already met this $1,500 threshold with a claim for financial costs or losses, you do not not need to meet the threshold a second time when submitting a claim under the claims for severe personal and financial damages.


Money Owed by Phoenix and Outstanding Grievances
 

1. Does this mean I won’t get the money I am owed from Phoenix?

No, you will still receive any outstanding amounts owed to you that you have not received due to Phoenix.

2. When will I get the money I am owed from Phoenix?

You will receive any outstanding amounts owed to you that you may not have received due to Phoenix on a case-by-case basis. Individual grievances continue to be worked on. Details on your case can be answered by contacting the Phoenix Help Team.

3. I’ve filed a grievance, how does this agreement affect it?

The new claims process will address all damages and/or interest resulting from pay issues and so there is no need to proceed with existing grievances at this time. If your pay issues have been fully resolved and the only outstanding issue remains damages and/or interest, the process to follow is to file a claim under the new process that will be established in keeping with this agreement.

We anticipate that the process will be similar to the current process to claim out-of-pocket expenses. When the claims process is established, we anticipate that our members who want to file a claim will submit all of their details and documents to the employer, not your union, through that process. These claims will be made directly to the employer and not through PIPSC.

On that basis, we recommend that you hold on to any relevant information you have in relation to any damages and interest claims you may wish to file. We will post the details of the new process on our website as soon as it is available.

For more information on this please read the full agreement.


Implementation
 

1. Which period does this compensation cover?

The agreement covers damages for the following four fiscal years: 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20.

2. Will a grievance be required to receive compensation under this agreement?

No. Up to five days of additional leave will be automatically provided to employees. Former employees and estates of deceased employees will receive a cash payout in lieu of this leave by submitting a claim for this compensation. Individual employees who missed opportunities to earn interest on savings accounts or other financial and capital investments, experienced delays in receiving severance or pension payments, or experienced severe personal or financial hardship due to Phoenix pay issues will also be able to claim additional compensation by submitting a claim.

3. Does this agreement mean I won’t be eligible for other compensation?

No. In fact, the agreement creates a faster, dedicated process for resolving individual claims. This agreement does not close off the possibility of negotiating further compensation at the bargaining table or further negotiations outside of collective bargaining should they be warranted.

4. I wasn’t affected directly by Phoenix, does this agreement apply to me?

Yes. Broadly speaking, this agreement contains three tiers of damages. The first-tier, which provides additional days of leave, applies to every public servant who worked at least one day in a position represented by one of the signatory unions since 2016. The second-tier extends the Phoenix-related expenses eligible for reimbursement for those who were directly affected and the third-tier deals with additional damages for those who faced hardship.


Sick Leave for Phoenix-Related Issues
 

1. I want to file a claim for reimbursement for sick leave I used due to illness caused by my Phoenix pay issues. How do I file my claim and what will be required to substantiate it?

The process to file a claim and to obtain details related to the required supporting documentation can be found on the Treasury Board’s web site.


Former and Retired Employees

The claim process for former employees (and representatives of former employees and estates of a deceased employees) to receive compensation is now available. You will receive the salary equivalent of the days of compensation leave.

1. I have retired. Am I still entitled to the leave days and, if so, how and when will these be paid to me?

Yes, you are entitled to the cash equivalent of the leave days. The compensation claims process for former members is now available. If you worked in a department using the Phoenix pay system between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2020, regardless of whether you experienced a pay problem, you are entitled to compensation.

2. I am soon retiring and want to use the leave days before I retire rather than receiving them in cash. Will that be possible?

If you were still employed on June 12, 2019 then you were compensated as a current employee and should have already received additional leave in your bank. These days of leave are treated the same as annual vacation leave and are subject to the same provisions in your collective agreement. If you did not receive the additional leave in your bank, contact your former department’s Human Resource team.

If you left the public service between April 1, 2016 and June 11, 2019 then you should apply through the process for former members

3. I retired in the autumn of 2019, around the same time as the leave days were made available. How will I receive the days of leave?

If you were still employed on June 12, 2019 then you were compensated as a current employee and should have already received additional leave in your bank. These days of leave are treated the same as annual vacation leave and are subject to the same provisions in your collective agreement. If you did not receive the additional leave in your bank, contact your former department’s Human Resource team.

If you left the public service between April 1, 2016 and June 11, 2019 then you should apply through the process for former members

4. How will former employees and the estates of deceased employees receive a payout of the leave provided in this agreement?

Former employees will submit a claim on the government’s website to receive a cash payout equivalent to the value of this leave. This claims process is now available.

Representatives of former members and representatives of the estate of a deceased employee will make a claim manually using a printable pdf form available now on the government website. 

5. Will this be paid by direct deposit or cheque? 

You will receive your Phoenix compensation by cheque. When you submit your claim, you will be given the opportunity to provide your current mailing address.

6. Is this cash payout taxable income?

Yes, this compensation is taxable for the year the payment is issued. For example, if the cheque is dated December 23, 2019 but you receive it on January 2, 2020, it will still count as income for 2019.

Non-PIPSC Members, Casual Employees, Students or RANDS
 

What if I was not a member of a union or was excluded for the entirety of a fiscal year since 2016-17?

If you were not a member of PIPSC, or any other signing union included in the agreement, for at least one day during a fiscal year since 2016-17, you may not be eligible to receive the leave days in question for that year.

The Treasury Board has decided to extend the terms of that agreement to excluded employees. If you were an excluded employee, you may be entitled to the days of leave for those years you were employed.

2. I’m classified as a RAND, am I eligible for the same compensation?

Yes, you are subject to the same agreement as full PIPSC members.

3. I used to be a regular PIPSC member paid by Phoenix and I have since cancelled my membership, am I eligible for compensation?

You are eligible for compensation if you were a PIPSC member during the pay periods described above.

4. Are casual employees or students eligible for this compensation?

No, you are not covered by this agreement.

PIPSC, the Joint Advisory Council, and Broader Implications
 

1. How did PIPSC come to agree to this?

The National Joint Committee bargaining agents agreed to engage in these discussions with the employer nearly two years ago in an attempt to resolve a number of policy grievances and complaints filed by bargaining agents. PIPSC appointed a representative to sit on a subcommittee with the employer to negotiate this settlement. The settlement is a result of negotiations at that table and the Bargaining Agent heads have come to agree with the settlement.

2. Why did it take two years to come to this agreement?

There were several reasons. Firstly, the process of negotiating an agreement involved multiple parties with a variety of interests. Second, the scope of the problem increased over the duration of these talks. Finally, these negotiations were intertwined with collective bargaining, which lengthened the process of Phoenix negotiations.

3. Are 1.25 days adequate compensation for all the hardships members have been through?

This agreement covers all public servants paid by Phoenix. The extra days off are in recognition of the frustration and uncertainty that the system caused you, whether or not your pay was affected. If you are still owed payments or suffered additional losses, you will be fairly compensated in the grievance process. This time off is in addition to any payments owed to you.

4. How were five days of leave reached as appropriate compensation?

The five days of leave were reached as an attempt to address the immense frustration caused to employees and as a product of negotiation with the employer. Leave was chosen instead of a monetary form of compensation, as it is a tangible benefit that is both flexible and easily administered without having to further bog down the Phoenix pay system.

5. Which unions were part of this subcommittee?

ACFO-ACAF, along with the Association of Justice Council (AJC), and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) currently serve on this committee on behalf of all public service unions. The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) served on this committee for two years.

6. What other unions have signed the agreement?

There are 15 public service unions that have signed the joint agreement compensating more than 146,000 current and former employees. Including: Association of Canadian Financial Officers, Association of Justice Council, Canadian Association of Professional Employees, Canadian Federal Pilots Association, Canadian Merchants Service Guild, Canadian Military Colleges Faculty Association, Canadian Union of Public Employees 104, Federal Government Dockyard Trades and Labour Council (East), Federal Government Dockyard Trades and Labour Council (West), Federal Government Dockyard Chargehands Association, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers, Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, Unifor, Union of Canadian Correctional Officers.

7. Will I be able to vote on this agreement?

No, this settlement aims at resolving a number of policy grievances and complaints filed by bargaining agents, not a collective agreement. It was signed on June 12, 2019.

8. If any other union representing federal public servants paid by Phoenix gets a better deal, will PIPSC members be able to benefit from that agreement?

In the highly unlikely event that another union secures improvements to this deal, the employer has committed to making those same improvements to the deal that we have.

9. What could the impact of a new government have on future Phoenix negotiations?

We don’t know how a change in government might affect future Phoenix negotiations. It might take longer and be more difficult to negotiate a settlement.

10. Will this affect our negotiations at the bargaining table?

No. This is separate and apart from bargaining. The provisions for Phoenix compensation will not appear in your collective agreement.

11. Can we expect more leave days in the future seeing how Phoenix issues will continue?

Further negotiations will take place later in this fiscal year if Phoenix is still affecting members. For as long as there are Phoenix issues, we will seek damages and compensation through all of the appropriate channels.